China considers touch of green

BEIJING – Is China beginning to go green? There are some early signs, including the nation’s latest five-year plan, which calls for the efficient use of resources to build an “environmentally friendly society,” and tax reforms discussed at a recent seminar. The latter include preferential policies for the recycling industry and a possible consumption tax for disposable chopsticks, plastic bags, diapers, and other environmentally harmful goods.

According to, when the ideas were outlined by taxation chief Xie Xuren, scholars like Li Xiangju of Xi’an Communications University were enthusiastic. “Things like disposable chopsticks and plastic bags cause a big waste on natural resources and pose environmental hazards,” he said.

Professor Zhu Qing of Renmin University suggested levying the tax as part of the retail price to discourage consumers. However, other scholars warned that it was difficult to identify products as disposable.

“Green taxation is an international trend,” said Jin Dongsheng, a leading researcher of the State Taxation Administration. Some European nations levy tax on sulphur dioxide discharge. New Zealand will tax the emission of smoke and dust, and Sweden will levy a traffic congestion tax starting 2006. Xie Xuren said China is set to replace road-use fees with a fuel tax in the next five years.